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Oct 31 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 31, 2021



Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church 1 Corinthians 14:1-4

Intro: You have heard something about the Jesus’ Movement

But a few years prior, there was another religious explosion
– it began with a husband and wife – John and Joan Baker
• a Christian couple who were Episcopalians
◦ they heard Pentecostal preacher teach on the baptism in the Spirit and speaking in tongues
◦ they wanted to have that experience – and they did!
• they told their Episcopalian pastor and he went to his colleague, Dennis Bennett
◦ they had little knowledge, and no experience of these things
◦ both priests also experienced the infusion of Spirit and speaking tongues
– this was the humble birth of the Charismatic Movement
• it spread rapidly through mainline churches and the Roman Catholic Church
◦ many of these people had not known an experience of God like this was possible
◦ the excitement was palpable and contagious
• but it also rattled a lot of people and religious hierarchies

Joan Baker learned about a Pentecostal minister in Riverside county
– he was gaining a reputation as a gifted Bible teacher
• friends of hers visited his church and after hearing him,
◦ invited him to teach a Bible study in their home
◦ (until then, not a lot of Episcopalians were interested in Bible Studies)
• that minister was my dad
– you wouldn’t know it, but when he was younger, he was a lot like me
• always looking for trouble
• Dad wasn’t thrilled about his Pentecostal roots
◦ he considered Pentecostalism excessively emotional – “charismaniacs”
◦ but–he loved teaching the Bible,
◦ so for a few years he taught the Bible in several homes

Dad was correct regarding the excesses
– and there were more issues than emotionalism
• a lot of silliness was tolerated, a lot of ego, and a great deal of greed
◦ at times Charismatic meetings were a spiritual circus, a free-for-all
• when people go wild and blame it on the Holy Spirit,
◦ it is inevitable that others will be abused
– some the Corinthians were infected with Charismatic craziness
If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? (v. 23)
• Paul wanted to pull in the reins, slow them down, and redirect them
. . . all things should be done decently and in order (v. 40)

Where Paul begins
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts (v. 1)

Paul said the same thing, basically, at the end of chapter 12
. . . earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31)
– earnestly translates Greek word zelote, zeal or zealous
• I get the appeal for spiritual fireworks
◦ it’s a heady experience to see God work signs and wonders
◦ we’re tempted to think, “At last! God is doing something”
• but we are human, and often zealous for the wrong reasons
◦ an ego need, or a need to feel empowered, or a need for acceptance and belonging
– what would Paul classify as the “higher gifts”?
• perhaps what he describes in verse 3 — gifts that have value for other people
encouragement and consolation
• whatever reason I have for wanting a spiritual experience,
◦ or to be spiritually gifted, it must be in the pursuit of love
◦ so whatever good I can do is to promote growth and healing in the lives of others

Entering the realm of things unseen
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but i will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also 1 Corinthians 14:14-15

This is the thread of Paul’s thought that we’ve been tracking
– God has equipped us with two separate ways of knowing
• the one we’re most familiar with he refers to here as “mind”
◦ how we know world through our senses and rational thought
• the other way of knowing he refers to as “spirit”
◦ an awareness awakened and enlightened by God’s Spirit
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit . . . . (1 Cor. 2:12-13)
– these are two levels of awareness and action – think of it like this:
with our minds, we can be aware of another person in a room
◦ we can communicate that experience to other people,
◦ and they will understand us, know what we mean
with our spirits, we can become aware of God’s presence in the room
◦ we can try to explain that to someone else,
◦ but they won’t understand if they’ve never experienced it
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14)
– Paul is saying he can pray in both in both levels of awareness
• typically when we pray with mind, we are engaging an active mode
• when we pray with spirit, we engage a receptive mode
◦ our mind is still conscious, but it is “unfruitful”
◦ that is, the mind is not doing anything or perceiving what is happening
For one who speaks in a tongue speaks . . . utters mysteries in the Spirit (v. 2)

A key statement of the chapter is made in verse 12
So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church

Translators supply the word “manifestations” – it is not in the Greek text
– it could just as easily be translated “spiritual experience”
• and again, “eager” is “zealous”
• they were zealous for spirituality, but Paul’s does not say, “Drop it. Move on. Study theology”
◦ rather, “Be zealous, but zealous for the building up the church community”
◦ the building up theme is emphasized by its repetition
builds up the church (v. 4), so that the church may be built up (v. 5), the other person is not built up (v. 17), Let all things be done for building up (v. 26)
– it used to be that we imagined the Christian monk or mystic,
• as someone who lived away from the world
◦ kept their distance from its demands and influence in order to be free
• for Paul, freedom from the world comes by not being conformed to it (Ro. 12:2)
◦ Paul’s spiritual awakening did not take him out of world, but into it — and around the world
◦ his total identification with Jesus is what freed him from the world
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal. 6:14)

The more a Christian enters the realm of things unseen,
– the more valuable that person becomes to the church and society
• both the church and the world need these many more of these free-spirited people
– remember that Paul has given us the illustration of a body
• the spiritual community is an organism that nourishes itself
• it is equipped with systems that enable the body to heal itself
. . . speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ep. 4:15-16)
– this happens each week in our Lexio Divina meetings
• Henri Nouwen relates a story about a deep conversation he enjoyed with a friend
◦ his description of it it reminds me of what I experience in Lexio Divina
Henri Nouwen, “I feel grateful for these insights, which emerged from our discussions. Thinking alone is so different from thinking together. As we return [to] tomorrow, there will be much good to remember”
• we can engage in serving each other like this all the time
◦ it does not have to be in formal meetings
◦ our casual conversations – our private prayers – phone calls and emails

Conclusion: I am slowly reading through Mark’s gospel

Wednesday morning I came again to one of my favorite stories
Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember . . . ? (Mk. 8:17-18)
– it was the word perceive that stood out to me
• much of Jesus’ ministry was devoted to helping us with this
◦ to create in us a new perceptive ability
◦ a perception of the kingdom of God – of things spiritual
• a hardened heart is one that cannot change
◦ its perspective, categories, beliefs, prejudices, and values are fixed and inflexible
– “having eyes” he asked – “having eyes” he asked
• Jesus had recently healed a deaf man, and he would soon heal a blind man
• the blind man had eyes and the deaf man had ears – but those eyes and ears didn’t work
◦ Jesus touched them and made them work

Eyes, ears, heart–
these are our organs of perception
This is what Jesus is doing for us–
he is making them work with his touch
And in the process,
he’s cracking open our hardened hearts

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